This is a review of the Maxtor 5000XT, which had to be purchased to back up my hard drive before my nightmare Dell laptop was sent off for good (see op). Please read my previous op on the Maxtor 1394 storage, which was a firewire drive of 40Gb which at the time was suffice for my requirements, but now even this is jam packed with files which just proves that it can never be big enough for more useful information. A lot of the information in the previous still applies and a lot of the criticisms has still not been addressed by Maxtor. It also provides other useful information. The 5000 series and the drive unit. ---------------------------------------- Having purchased a previous model the 3000LE, and though there were problems with it the drive performed well. It is now full of backup files and there is no further room to back up new stuff. Again this purchase was necessitated by the ongoing problems with the Dell Laptop. The Maxtor 5000 series has several drives of various speed and capacity. The largest drive is the 250Gb which formats down to around 230Gb with a spin time of 5400 rpm. At a similar cost is the 5000DV model of 200Gb which is a faster drive spinning at 7200rpm. The series come in various interfaces too, USB 2.0 only or both firewire (IEE 1394) and USB 2.0. As the Dell laptop only had USB 1.1 backing up the 40Gb worth of data would be far too slow, as Usb 2.0 is backward compatible but only at USB1.1 performance without USB 2.0. Thankfully although there is only 1 firewire socket on the laptop, which is taken up by the existing Maxtor IEE1394 drive, this drive has another firewire socket to daisy chain another 61 firewire devices, so this wasn?t going to be an issue, and as the existing drive wasn?t going to be operated at the same time the new 5000 XT could be plugged directly in, the previous drive could then be daisy chained to the new model. This may have a performance advantage too, but this hasn?t been tested
. The 5000XT could be stacked on top of the 3000LE, or be placed vertically in its stand. This was also plugged into a USB1.1 but it was so painfully slow, that it was quickly placed back into the firewire socket. This op was therefore conducted using the firewire interface only, as there was no USB2.0 to try it out with. The casing of the drives differ depending on which version you buy. The 5000 series are all blue grey with the difference in colour plastics surrounding the corners being different to differentiate the models. The 3000 series are still the imac transparent white though. The 5000 series is much prettier though, and looks far expensive too. The 5000XT is fairly big 41.2 x 152.4 x 219 mm, similar in size to the previous models and much heavier at 2lbs and 11oz than the previous drive and consequently feels much more sturdy, but it is not advisable to drop it, as I doubt it would withstand the impact. Much of the increase weight is probably due to the larger size drive and the extra interfaces as well as a button on the front fascia. Again its not designed to be a portable drive for portable users, in fact Maxtor advises against this type of use, as the drive can be damaged. You still need a laptop size power supply to give the unit its juice. It has 2 IEE1394 sockets on and a USB 2.0/1,1, a Kensington lock slot and power socket the back. Note only one interface can be use at any one time, so plugging simultaneously into both USB and firewire is not possible. A new amber light now indicates disk access on the front, gone from the red one on the 3000 and previous series, and a green one for power. There are extra cooling slots on the bottom as well as around the front and sides like the previous models. The added slots are necessary as the previous model did get quite hot during operating. One of the criticisms of the previous model was the lack of a power switch which is a bit of bad design, as the drive is external
ly powered it doesn?t power down when Windows is shut down. The button on the front fascia therefore brought a lot of excitement, has Maxtor listened to my comments and give the user what they want? NO. The button is what Maxtor terms a One Touch Backup system. This is suppose to make backing up your files much easier. But Maxtor will you please listen that having a power switch would make the user?s life much more easier! It has to be done manually, by switching off at the mains, I?ve forgotten to do too many time already! The manual states that the drive spins down when not in use, and thoughtfully suggests plugging the unit into a socket with an on/off switch! The 5000XT also spins at 5400 rpm and has 2Mb of cache buffer, so it should be fairly speedy using an interface faster than USB1.1, like the firewire connection. The previous 3000LE drive was have found to have a data transfer rate averaging 12Mb/s but it all depends on the sizes of files, this was using a 6-4pin firewire cable, supporting 400Mb/s transfer rates. Small files tend to average around 8Mb/s. The 5000XT is much faster, copying 20Gb of data consisting of large and small files took just over 20 minutes compared to 30-40 minutes on the 3000LE. Using Sisoftware Sandra testing module suggested a rate of 33Mb/s which is fast. This was done using Windows Me, not exactly speedy so a good performance. However for pure performance the 5000DV model is more for you. This drive spins at 7200 rpm and has 8Mb buffer so should be even faster. So whether you pay about 10-20 pounds more for an extra 50Gb of storage space or a faster drive is up to you. But if the 5000DV is like the 5000XT in design that is no fan being present I would definitely go for the XT version as 7200 rpm drives run more hotter and a much shorter life. The XT ran fairly hot during use, but not much hotter than the 3000 LE version. Still I didn?t feel comfortable about using them both stacked on top of each
other as this arrangement ran fairly hot so I placed the XT model in its vertical stand, for more efficient cooling. It maybe better if I stacked the 3000LE on top of the 5000Xt, so that the hot air didn?t get drawn into the latter?s bottom cooling vents, but I have yet to try this out. However the top part of the drive was then slightly cooler than the bottom part of the drive unit. This is another reason I considered the XT model over the DV. For digital video or applications requiring speed the DV model is the model to go for. firewire vs usb 2.0 ---------------------- Since the previous op was written, firewire is now pretty much standard on most systems. The transmission rate are 30 times greater than usb 1.1, at 400 mb/s. You can daisychain another 63 devices, so in theory you can have unlimited storage by plugging in additional units when the drive is getting full. It is also hotpluggable, so you don?t have to switch off the units to connect or disconnect. However since then USB 2.0 has arisen and is much faster than USB 1.1 but remaining backward compatible. Its speed is very comparable if not slightly quicker than firewire. Both are hot pluggable. Although USB2.0 has a higher bus transfer rate than firewire, Maxtor?s own figures suggest the maximum sustained rate is higher for firewire than USB 2.0, 37.5Mb/s Vs 34Mb/sec. Again as I have not yet had a Usb2.0 to test yet I cannot comment on real life performance. However firewire 800 is also now emerging and this is much superior. The package --------------- Again Maxtor promises a ready to go out of the box experience for PC users but again not for laptop users who are more likely to have a 4pin socket. The box contains a proper manual, a 6pin to 6pin firewire cable, a Usb2.0 cable, 2 CDs for mac users, and PC users which has the Retrospect backup software and documentation, a vertical stand and the drive itself. The drive is formatted with FAT32 in
one partition and ready for use with PCs. Win 98 and Me have known bugs with hard drives this big and is pointed out in the manual. If you have Windows XP and will not need to use Win 9x then reformat it using NTFS for much better performance. Other specification for techies can be found on maxtor?s website. Installation -------------- After the previous experience I was well prepared for the nightmare. Again Maxtor thoughtfully only supplies a 6pin to 6 pin cable. They could have supplied a 6-4 pin adapter at least. Most notebooks only have a 4 pin socket, so notebook users you have been warned. This means having to purchase a separate short cable creating much more expense, and I did complain to Maxtor the last time. Its much cheaper to buy the cable than a PMCIA card with a 6pin socket! However the USB cable provided can avoid this problem, but only USB2.0 users will benefit. Having gone through the trauma before this was much of a breeze, since I already had a 6-4pin cable, I simply used the 6pin-6pin cable to connect to my other drive. First time users beware if you need to use a 4pin firewire socket. However with USB 2.0 appearing more on systems this will be less of an issue. Installation was a breeze, though was different to the previous model. The drivers on the CD have to be installed with or without Retrospect Backup Express, then restart the system and Plug in the cable, plug in the power lead, and hey presto, Windows Me detected it. The hard drive was ready to use. The other 3000LE drive also worked so no configuration mess up occurred. Mac users have to reformat the disc before use. General use --------------- The drive is quick for every day use, though backing up huge amounts of data still takes time. It is fairly quiet, in fact much quieter than the IBM travelstar unit in my notebook, so its important not to move the drive while its in use, its noisier than the 3000LE but it
is barely audible. The amber disk access light is much more visible than the red light in the previous model, though from some angles its hard to see the light but a great improvement though. Performance wise is very good as mentioned, though haven?t done any movie editing yet, with speeds closing in on internal hard drives. The one button backup works well, with configuring what to back up on the first use. However the Retrospect software is not very easy to use as it should be especially compared to Microsoft backup, but it is logical and is more powerful. The option to backup a disc to a file was not much use to me since FAT 32 has a limit of 4Gb in file size so it had to be manually done, as the software wasn?t much joy to use, I simply duplicated my hard drive on to the 5000XT, and used the verification option. The whole job took around 35 minutes for 20Gb of data. Copying the system files produced the usual sharing error messages but 10Gb was quicker but the operation stopped due to the error. So files were dragged on to the drive with explorer. Much easier way! Using NFTS will overcome this restriction so the backup should work much better. The software also has compression and encryption options. Overall --------- Hopefully a drive of this size should be adequate for the near future, with drives half the capacity becoming standard now, so this may not be overkill. When I purchased the 40Gb I thought this was a lot at the time but how time flies? and demand changes. Its not designed as a portable unit for notebook users which is a shame, but a power source also needs to be found. It is extremely easy to install, and performs very well. Again Maxtor still doesn?t support the 4 pin socket straight out of the box considering notebooks users are more likely to use an external storage device than a desktop user. 4 pin sockets are usually on notebooks and 6 pin sockets are on desktops, though they c
an have the 4 pin variety on the front as well! Its much cheaper to purchase an internal drive unit with better performance, than an external one, due to the constraints of the firewire and USB2.0 interface, though these are harder to install and not portable. The kensington lock on the 5000XT also makes it more secure and the drive can also be placed in a safe for storage. The lack of a power switch is ultimately a bad design, surely a power switch is more useful than the one touch backup button. Incidentally the difference between the 5000 series and the 3000 series is the inclusion of the one touch facility and backup software. The latter was sorely missed on the 3000 series. However the package included is not easy to use, and has a steep learning curve. Having an explorer type interface would have been better, as would better integration with Windows. Maxtor have done it again providing phenomenal storage power at a not phenomenal price, especially when compared to its competitor and at with decent performance thrown in the balance. The backup software although not easy to get to grips with is useful for this type of application, and using NTFS would be more appropriate. Having two interfaces increases the flexibility though only one can be used limits its usefulness but makes sense. Maybe Maxtor will take note of my criticisms this time round. Somehow I doubt it.So size or performance? It definitely has to be size?.. For £/Mb the XT is much better value than the DV. One issue which Maxtor may have to look is how to increase the cooling of the drives, and to fit a fan to increase the efficiency of the cooling. This is certainly more important as drives get faster. So in answer to my question from my previous Maxtor op. Is it big enough? It can never be too big. Size does matter!